Ryan On The Record
March 9, 2001 | 9:03 A.M. EST
We left the gates running with an impressive win in the Daytona ARCA event to start off our year. We didn’t qualify as well as we hoped (11th), but we made up for it in the end when we drove into victory lane. Plus, we gave Penske Racing South its first win at Daytona International Speedway.
Our second event of the year was at North Carolina Speedway. It was our first Busch Series event in the ALLTEL 200. We tested and practiced real well and it paid off. We started the race from the outside pole and got spun on the second lap. We had to pit for tires and restart from the back. From there we battled the competition for most of the race and charged to a top-ten finish (9th).
Now on to this last weekend... Las Vegas was definitely challenging. If ever there was a nerve-wracking weekend, it was this one.
On Friday we qualified early in the order for the Winston Cup event and didn’t go quite as fast as we hoped. Then, we had to wait for the rest of the field to qualify before we knew if we made the race or not. Luck was on our side and we got the 35th spot for Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.
In “Happy Hour” practice, the car felt good and we really hoped to have a good run on Sunday. Even though we were starting in the back, we were positive that we would be competitive.
The race started with an incident on lap 2, so we didn’t get a chance to feel the car out. Once we got a chance for a long green flag run, I radioed the crew that the car was tight. Another caution gave us a chance to come in and work on the car, but this scenario would be repeated throughout the day. It was a continuous struggle, but a true learning experience. That’s what this season is all about and we know that.
The last changes we made loosened the car up too much and we just decided to ride it out. Unfortunately, we went from two laps down to 11 laps down while trying to get the car adjusted and finished 33rd.
It was a good, positive experience for us and I think we learned a lot. Now on to Atlanta!